2018-11-28 15:55:00 UTC
(Scroll down to "Children's Gift Book" - about half-way.)
Joe Sommerlad, Nov. 27th, 2018
Enid Blyton, the popular children’s writer, died 50 years ago this week.
Astonishingly prolific, the author composed some 700 books between 1922, when she published her poetry collection Child Whispers, and her death in Hampstead on 28 November 1968, often rattling out 6,000 words a day at the typewriter.
She has sold more than 600 million books, which have never gone out of print, been translated into 90 languages and enjoyed a loyal following among young readers for generations, her characters from the Famous Five to Noddy capturing the imagination and inspiring a taste for adventure.
But Blyton has also been heavily criticised. The BBC refused to dramatise her output during her lifetime on the grounds she was a “second-rater”, while she has been derided for the patriarchal assumptions, snobbery and xenophobia evident in her novels and mocked as a conservative relic of a Britain that no longer exists.
And yet she endures. Her tales of youthful pluck and outdoor picnics with lashings of ginger beer might have seemed comically outmoded by the Swinging Sixties but are now read in a spirit of enormous nostalgia for mid-century Britain, the values of friendship, fairness and freedom she espoused appealing to audiences anew in more self-centred times.
Her memory has also been coloured somewhat by A Childhood at Green Hedges, the scathing memoir her daughter Imogen Smallwood wrote in 1989 in which she states: “The truth is, Enid Blyton was arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult, I did not hate her. I pitied her.”
Imogen's daughter Sophie, Enid's granddaughter, offered a kinder assessment of Blyton’s work in 2009, telling The Guardian: “Her writing is that of an intelligent 12-year-old. In my view that’s why adults find it difficult to relate to her because she doesn’t quite have the depth; it has that childlike quality.”
Former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine has also defended her, telling BBC Radio 4 in 2008: “In times of falling reading levels and limitless other distractions, we grasp at any author who has that turn-the-page quality. And for reasons that may remain entirely mysterious to reading adults, she certainly has that.”...
By Ceri Radford, Nov. 27th
"Enid Blyton 50 years on: Let’s be more critical about books venerated in the past"
...While golliwogs – a racial caricature of a toy – were dropped from a 1980s BBC adaptation of Noddy, and two of the Famous Five, Fanny and Dick, have been astutely renamed, what is harder to eradicate is a general sense of smug judgement. Blyton’s books take a snide tone towards anyone who isn’t part of the jolly-hockey-sticks, stiff-upper-lip club. Take this early scene from First Term at Malory Towers, when a much-praised boarding school teacher meets an upset new girl: “Miss Potts looked at Gwendoline. She had already sized her up and knew her to be a spoiled only child, selfish and difficult to handle at first.”
You can’t blame Blyton for capturing a zeitgeist long before the existence of emotional support peacocks, but you can wonder at the enduring popularity of a writer who apparently set such little stock in empathy, the real cornerstone of imagination.
Blyton remains a bestselling author, raising the question: who buys them? Is it all Jacob Rees-Mogg having a laugh, feverishly dragging them into his shopping cart and cackling as he gets one over on golliwog-shunning millennial snowflakes?
While Blyton has an undeniable knack for crafting a tale, so do many writers...
"What Enid Blyton taught me about female friendship" by Gwen Smith
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(about her life - I don't know how close to accurate it is)